STATINS are to be made available without prescription under plans to save thousands of lives.
NHS chiefs say making it easier to get the 4p-a-day cholesterol-busters will stop heart attacks and strokes.
Some 12million Brits, one in three over 30s, are eligible but only eight million take them.
It is hoped offering statins at chemists and in supermarkets will reach more at-risk patients and spare users repeat trips to their GP.
Pharmacists will do on-the-spot health checks and the pills will be supplied only to those who meet qualifying criteria such as high cholesterol.
NHS England boss Simon Stevens said the aim was to make care “more accessible, convenient and effective”.
Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Dr Keith Ridge said: “Used appropriately, statins are effective and can save lives. Hundreds of thousands of people could benefit.”
Some users complain statins cause muscle aches and up to half ditch them.
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Research has linked them to higher Type 2 diabetes risk, sleep problems and headaches.
The Royal College of GPs said they were “usually safe and effective” but not risk free. Chairwoman Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard said GPs had “concerns” about making them available without prescription.
She said: “GPs will only prescribe them if we think it is in the best interests of an individual patient . . . and after a frank conversation about the potential risks and benefits.”
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